Before I Wake
Film: Before I Wake
Director: Mike Flanagan
Writer: Mike Flanagan and Jeff Howard
Starring: Kate Bosworth, Thomas Jane and Jacob Tremblay
This film begins with a man entering a boy’s room while he sleeps. The man is played by Dash Mihok and the boy by Jacob Tremblay. Mihok has a gun in his hand and he hears something that startles him. He had closed the door when he entered and it opens.
We then shift to a couple that has been approved to become foster parents. They are played by Kate Bosworth and Thomas Jane. The social worker they meet with is played by Annabeth Gish. She informs them that she has just the child for them, that he has a rough go with former foster parents, having been abandoned or brought back multiple times.
As they prepare for him to arrive, Jane puts up rails in the bathtub and we learn that this family had a son, but he died in a tragic accident. Tremblay shows up to the house and he is very polite. There takes a little bit of time to get acclimated, but everyone seems happy about this arrangement.
Tremblay has a gift though. When he dreams, it manifests. He loves butterflies and they appear to Jane and Bosworth as they are watching television. They don’t notice it though, but there is something else that comes with them. Something that Tremblay claims is always with him, the Canker Man.
The boy also starts to dream of Bosworth and Jane’s deceased son, who is played by Antonio Evan Romero. Bosworth decides to use Tremblay, by telling stories of Romero and showing home videos, in order to relive these experiences with him. The problem though is that Tremblay doesn’t want to sleep. He is scared of the Canker Man and what he can do.
It is extremely unhealthy to stay awake for days on end and Tremblay gets to the point where he starts to dream even when he is awake. This Canker Man comes and makes people disappear. Can Bosworth learn the truth behind this creature before it is too late? Can the boy be stopped before more people disappear and he is taken away from this house?
Now I heard about this film from horror film podcasts that I listen to. When I heard that it was directed and written by Mike Flanagan, I was very interested, because everything that I have seen by him I have enjoyed. This is an interesting film to me. Now I read that Flanagan didn’t really want this film to be portrayed as a horror film and I agree with him slightly there. The creature in this film is quite crazy. I loved the twist and the reveal of what the Canker Man really is. It made complete sense and is something that is very believable. I also love that the manifestations in this film are incorrect, because they are done by a child. They are highly impressionable and the more that he learns and sees, he incorporates into it. The older he gets, the better they become as well from what we learn. The progression of the story was great to me as well and led up to a solid ending. It is a good combination of happy, overcome with emotions and a tinge of sadness.
I felt that the acting was pretty solid overall as well. Bosworth is an interesting character. Part of me felt for her as she is dealing with the grief of her dead child, but I also disliked her in that she was using this boy for his talent to help her cope. Tremblay is eager and I felt that a lot of it was there to try to please these new parents. I like her character arch though from this point. Jane wasn’t bad in support and he actually does try to make her see her ways. I also thought that Tremblay was pretty solid for being a child actor. I have problems at times with them and I don’t like to judge them too hard, because sometimes I feel that they are asked to do something that is beyond them. The rest of the cast rounds this film out nicely to me.
Normally I have issues with some films when they show the monster too much in it. This film I wasn’t too bothered by it. At first we get glimpses of it, which freaked me out. As the film moves along, we see more and more of it. There are times that it is computer generated, but oddly I wasn’t bothered because it still seemed to look real for me. Outside of that, they seemed to go practical effects with it and I think that’s a great decision. The butterflies and flying creatures in the manifestations are also computer generated, but they actually looked good as well. I felt that the editing of this film was good. There are some flashbacks as well as cutting away from scenes at the right time. It was well done for me. The soundtrack didn’t really stick out, but it also didn’t make me pause either, which works perfectly fine.
Now with that said, I really enjoyed this film. I am becoming a big fan of Flanagan and have enjoyed everything that I’ve seen from him thus far. I liked the idea of this story and the concept of it as well. I thought that acting was good throughout. The creature looked good whether it was done with computers or practical effects. The editing of the film was well done and the soundtrack, even though it didn’t stand out, didn’t hurt the film to me. I wouldn’t come in expecting to be terrified. There were some parts that got my heart going and few scary parts, but this film is really about Tremblay and what is causing his nightmares that are manifesting to hurt those around him. I would recommend giving this film a viewing, whether you like horror films or not.
My Rating: 9 out of 10